Whether you’re hiking into the Grand Canyon for the first time or spending an entire weekend trekking across the Glacier National Park in Montana, you’ll need somewhere comfortable to rest your body and head.
If you’re a camper, you’ll probably need to venture into the world of camping cots.
Cots and bedrolls are suitable for large tents and for family campers, but it’s not always easy to decide which ones you need or whether they are comfortable and worth it.
Camping cots can be comfortable to those who prefer to be higher from the ground. Unlike traditional sleeping bags and air mattresses, camping cots allow the body to be at least a foot from the ground. This height allows for a small ‘dip’, which the ground does not, and so can be a lot more comfortable.
The appeal of camping cots to most who decide to invest in one is sleeping off the floor.
We’re all used to camping, rolling out a sleeping bag and our bodies having to deal with uneven surfaces, hard grounds and dips and mounds.
An air mattress reduces this problem of course but whether you choose a sleeping bag or an air mattress you are still sleeping on the floor.
A camping cot acts more like a foldable bed.
The legs of a camping cot support the body, and the height and space underneath you allow your body to curve naturally just as it would sleeping on a standard mattress.
For some though it’s the feeling of sleeping on a bad rather than a floor that helps them become more comfortable with their nightly routine, which of course can only help for a better night sleep.
Are Camping Cots worth it?
In terms of cost, a camping cot is similar in price to camping memory foam mattress or air mattress. Whether a camping cot is worth it usually depends on how you prefer to sleep rather than the overall cost. Camping cots are worth it for those who prefer to sleep off the floor.
Personally, I am more comfortable in a camping cot. The feeling of being off the ground replicates my normal night sleep.
Even to the point my arm can dangle over the edge of the cot, which is does in my bed, means I can better match my normal sleeping pattern.
Studies show that replicating your normal sleeping pattern will help someone get to sleep faster, as well as for longer.
Ever wonder why many of us struggle to sleep on a plane (unless flying in Business Class or First Class). It’s not natural for us to sleep whilst sitting up, and not part of our usual sleep routine, so we struggle.
The same applies to sleeping in a tent. Especially for the novices among us.
If though you are a restless sleeper it is possible to fall off either side.
For camping cots to be portable and lightweight enough to be carried, they aren’t particularly wide.
Falling off a camping cot is the story many campers have experienced. It may make for a funny story when you tell your friends, but it isn’t great in the middle of the night when you hit the ground!
You do of course need a tent big enough.
A small one, or two-person tent is not going to be big enough to hold a fully setup camping cot.
You’ll need to make sure your tent is large enough.
Camping cots come in all different sizes, so unless your tent is really small, you should find one suitable.
Camping Cots vs Air Mattress
A camping cot has a few advantages: it is portable and can double up as an extra bed. You can also use it as a bed for kids.
However, some camping cots are also more expensive than an air mattress, and as a result more people opt for an air mattress.
Many camping cots though – like this recommended Osage River Camping Cot on Amazon – are really coming down in price!
Air mattresses are much more compact, take up less space and easier to travel with.
It may take a while to blow them up each night, but once the air is depleted it can be folded down to an incredibly small size.
A camping cot is a rigid structure and although it does fold down, it often will need carrying separately outside of even the largest backpack or camping bags.
If you plan to do a lot of hiking and many days of hiking trails, a camping cot is really going to slow you down.
It’s a better option for those campers who can pitch up their tent, setup their camping cot, and then go off and explore!
What to look for in a Camping Cot
Here are the things to look for in a camping cot:
- Size – is your tent big enough for the camping cot to fit in
- Weight – if you are going to be carrying your carry cot for long periods of time
- Width – make sure it isn’t designed for children, and can support your frame
- Extras – some camping cots have a basic lining, where others have a built-in mattress for extra comfort!
- Support – make sure the camping cot can support your weight and frame
Many camping cots are very basic and require your own pillow and sleeping bag or duvet, but there are ways to make your camping cot extra comfortable.
How to make a camping cot extra comfortable
Some camping cots on the market have built in padding and mattresses and are almost as comfortable as sleeping in a bed.
This is great if you love the idea of going camping and being outdoors but miss the experience of laying in a comfortable bed at night.
You’ll need an extra-large tent for one of these, but if you already have a family size tent with lots of space, these can be ideal.
For example, take a look at the Mattress Based Camping Cot on Amazon, this is the ultimate in luxury comfortable camping cot!
If though you need to make sure all extras are lightweight, and a compact portable camping cot is a must, there are ways of making these even more comfortable.
You’ll need a pillow and duvet of course, or sleeping bag, but one thing I always find in a camping cot is that the frame can feel very hard.
It needs to be hard of course to offer the support of a bed, but I’m tall and like to spread out in bed, so invariably I find myself pressed against the hard edges of the cot.
Top Tip: You could always wrap and tie tube insulation around the camping cot frame to soften the edges!
This would create a soft frame area to spread your hands, arms, legs or feet and not have to deal with the hard and sometimes cold frame.
In Conclusion – Are Camping Cots Comfortable and Worth it
Camping cots are one of the most comfortable ways to spend the night in a tent.
Nothing will compare to a full-size bed and mattress of course, but a camping cot can be the next best thing.
As camping cots are becoming small, and lightweight they are also reducing in price.
They are though not a good option for those who will be hiking and camping in different places each night.